Tithing, Building, and Building a Future

From Martin G. Selbrede‘s excellent post on Tithing & Building:

It is true that Biblical Christianity is pitted against socialism. But what we forget is that the tithe is the primary Christian weapon against socialism. Rushdoony again pinpoints for us where the socialist camel stuck its nose under the tent, where voids were left when tithing began to disappear:

Socialism has filled a void vacated by Christians. The spread of Unitarianism and atheism in the United States was closely followed by the spread of socialism. It was not by accident that the early American socialist of 1800-1860 attacked the tithe. To break down tithing meant that another source of social financing had to be forthcoming: the central civil government. (p. 5)

And again:

The tithe has a major social function which needs restoring. It is futile to rail against statism if we have no alternative to the state assumption of social responsibilities. (p. 8)

Sadly, Christians by and large have been lulled into an unthinking reliance on the power state. The high calling of liberty under God is sold for a mess of statist pottage. God’s blessings are within visible reach, but we grasp for everything but His way to build a godly society. When given a choice between falling into the hands of God or men, David selected God (2 Sam. 24:14), but we routinely prefer men over God.

Expanding the Kingdom of God is the work of the Holy Spirit, working through many means: this includes the hearts, minds and souls of those who belong to Jesus Christ.

God rightfully demands our total commitment, including the tithe: our pocketbooks, as well as our thoughts and sweat, belong to God. We – believers and unbelievers alike, are responsible to God to both determine the tithe rightly, and determine the recipient correctly, so the Kingdom is expanded, not frustrated.

To go to the beginning of the Tithing & Building: article:

In a previous issue, I suggested a way to measure the progress of Christian Reconstruction in our culture: that Christians tithe all the tithes commanded in the Bible, which includes the Levitical tithe, the poor tithe, and the rejoicing tithe. All of it. Every last, decentralizing, state de-bloating cent of it. It is truly pitiful that one of Chalcedon’s worst selling books is the 1979 volume Tithing and Dominion, by Edward A. Powell and R. J. Rushdoony (T&D for short). We can conclude that meaningful progress has been made when Tithing and Dominion has become a Chalcedon bestseller. That day is still only a sparkle in God’s eye.

In general, the modern Christian view of the tithe is a preposterous caricature that utterly misses the true power of tithing. We assume sermons on tithing are calls to boost funding — in effect, calls for throwing money at a problem. Unfortunately, the content of such sermons tends to reinforce these impressions. The radical social consequences of the tithe, the fact that God’s Kingdom cannot properly grow without the tithe, are alien to modern Christians.

Worse yet, our attitude to the tithe decisively marks who or what we truly regard as lord over our lives: God or the state. Our views concerning it will color how we go about building God’s Kingdom. The tithe, then, reveals much about our deepest loyalties. In a sugar-coated world, it’s no wonder that these aspects of the tithe are too frightening for most Christians to dwell on. When we factor in the institutional churches’ use of the tithe, which tends to compound the flocks’ shortchanging of God, we find ourselves drifting toward a world of hurt beyond our power to imagine.

Whether all the tithes…

  • should be collected in the post-Temple era of today as per Rushdoony & Powell’s Tithing and Dominion
  • or just the 10% to the local church, as North demands in his book The Covenantal Tithe,
  • or if the “local church” requirement is just a control tool to insure the power of the clergy, as Marinov argues in his book “One Holy Local Church?”

…is something that there isn’t a consensus on. Marinov persuaded me to drop the “local church” requirement, but I still advise tithing 10% net income after taxes.

(Not that anyone asks: books on tithing are among the least popular books in all Christian writings.)

I do agree with Rushdoony, though, that we cannot replace the welfare state without a greater commitment to the tithe. To return once more to the article:

The tithe has a major social function which needs restoring. It is futile to rail against statism if we have no alternative to the state assumption of social responsibilities. (p. 8)

You can’t replace something with nothing: both our families and our churches — and other charitable organizations, where the church fails to fulfill her mission — need to get serious about building a free Christian society.

And such a project must be paid for, with a variety of coin: time, energy, and most definitely cold hard cash.

Some expansion on the tithe, from Chalcedon:

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